My Personal Point of View

As  someone who has  studied history over a number of decades I have  become acutely aware how important it  is  to present facts and information in a straight unambiguous  fashion  . I had the pleasure a number of years ago to study , through the Open University, a  superb course  on Family and Community History .This disciplined  course  rapidly  instilled  within me how imperative it is to  ensure that  you gather together  the facts  and  the sources  before setting  forth on a dissertation that could  be radically flawed ! Bearing this   in mind I looked at the  report  on  the“ Burning “ of Crieff  as written  by one John Drummond the recumbent Presbyterian Minister . Biased bigotry prevails and as  card carrying member of the “ Kirk “  was suitably  shocked  to read  of the narrow minded parochialism  that Drummond and his ilk projected . Read on with open mind !



Historical background

To properly understand the “ burnings ”, it is necessary to look briefly at the overall history of Scotland prior to the 1715 uprising . The advent of James Vl to the throne of Great Britain on the death of Elizabeth of England was significant in a number of ways to every day life in Scotland . James embraced the English Court and the Episcopal form of worship . He introduced what is referred to as The Five Articles , which were pure anathema to the Presbyterians . These were enjoying private baptism , private communion , confirmation by bishops , observance of holy days and kneeling at communion . The General Assembly, the “ parliament “ of the Kirk rejected these in 1617 but after being passed by the Privy Council , was forced through the following Assembly in 1619 . The Scottish Parliament by a small majority gave these its sanction to the “ Articles “.  James himself stated “ No bishops - no King ! “  He literally governed by the pen issuing his instructions to the Privy Council . When he died in 1625 , his successor was the politically incompetent Charles l . One of his first appointments was Archbishop Spottiswoode as Chancellor . In 1634 the Scottish Parliament presented him with a “ supplication “ in which their grievances were set out . All to no avail as Charles would not budge on his views . In 1637 he demanded that all Scottish Churches use the new prayer book . The immediate response was the production of the National Covenant in 1638. Its signatories swore to “ maintain the form of Church government most in accord with God’s will ”, in other words that of the Presbyterian Kirk . It fomented the Bishop’s War ( 1639 / 1640 ) which was led from the front by many of the Nobles such Loudoun and Montrose. The substantial support of the majority of Scottish Lairds was important .  “ The Wars of the Covenants ” brought  a whole Nation under arms . They demanded the removal of the Bishops from the Privy Council . This threat of action was sufficient to win their case. The “Three Estates ”  now saw the Lairds take over from the Bishops and join the Nobles and the representatives of the Burghs and the Shires.

The English Civil War in 1642 saw the supporters of the Covenant throw in their lot with the Parliamentary forces in return for a guarantee of a Presbyterian form of worship no only in Scotland but in England as well  ( The Solemn League and Covenant ) . Developments in Scotland saw James Graham, Marquis of Montrose , throw in his lot with the Royalists. Although a Presbyterian he wished to safeguard the monarchy. His suspicions had been aroused by the emergence of his arch rival Archibald Campbell, Marquis of Argyll . With the aid of Alasdair Mac Colla  or Alasdair MacDonald , Montrose set about his task . Mac Colla was a Highland warrior of rare military talent who was connected with the McDonnels of Antrim  . Using this family connection he brought fellow clansmen from Ireland to join up in the struggle .

Montrose waged a successful campaign and won battles at Tibbermore , Kilsyth and Inverlochy before coming as cropper at Philiphaugh .  The subsequent defeat of Charles l at Naseby saw the collapse of the war . Charles was executed in January 1649. Tibbermore was in particularly apposite to feelings pertaining in Strathearn and was an indication of the split loyalties of the people of the area.

Tibbermore - a bloody encounter

The Battle of Tibbermore was a victory for Montrose . The Government forces under the Earl of Lothian were to march to Perth and Burleigh was to march there from Fife. All able bodied men between 16 and 60  were called to arms in Perthshire ( fencibles). Lothian was to drive the rebels north into the arms of Argyll . Montrose with the Stewarts and the Robertsons marched via Aberfeldy and down the Sma’ Glen to surprise the opposition. Near Crieff they met a force of 500 Highlanders newly formed by Lord Kilpoint , Sir John Drummond and the Master of Madderty as requested by the regime . All three were obeying orders to join the Covenanters in Perth but had Royalist sympathies . Kilpoint was a Graham , a kinsman of Montrose and Madderty was Montrose’s brother in law . It is though that perhaps there was collusion and that was why Montrose came via the Sma’ Glen and Crieff . The surprise worked as the Highlanders had a core of Irish veterans under MacColla . Despite being fewer in numbers the ferocity of the charge shattered the Covenanters defence . It turned into a massacre . The Highlanders chased them to Perth and slaughtered all . It is reported ( Stevenson , 1980 ) that one Irish officer stated , “ you could not walk the three miles from the battlefield to Perth without once touching the ground and treading on corpses. ”  The local Presbyterian minister said , “The hounds of hell were drawn up before our ports newly bathed in blood and demanding more with hideous cries .”

After Tibbermore

There after followed a period of confusion . The Scots supported  his son Charles ll as legitimate successor on the proviso that he would support the National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant . As a result Cromwell invaded Scotland and after a crushing victory at Dunbar quickly took virtual control of the country. Charles was crowned at Scone and Argyll invaded England but was defeated at Worcester. Cromwell was overlord . Both Argyll and his rival Montrose were executed in Edinburgh. 

Cromwell died in 1658 and in 1660 Charles ll was proclaimed King . Despite the sacrifices that had been made, things quickly reverted to the past . The Recissory Act in 1661 declared all legislation passed since 1633 to be null and void . The Covenants were renounced and Episcopacy restored which meant the hierarchy of Bishops, lay patronage (land owners  picked the parish clergy ) and royal supremacy with the King as head of the Church . This was the period of the Covenanters , of “ conventicles “ in Ayrshire and the south west and dissent . Soldiers raised by the Duke of Perth ( an Episcopalian ) were sent from Strathearn to quell the troubles . They were called the Highland Host”. It was a period known in Scottish history as the “ killing times “. Ministers of the Kirk  circulated papers of dissent against the King . It resulted in Presbyterians being executed for treason .


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